German premium carmaker Audi is reportedly planning to buy back around 25,000 Audi Q7 SUVs powered by its 3.0-liter V6 TDI engine in the United States. The buyback should compensate owners in the US who bought Audi Q7s that failed to comply with exhaust emission standards.
According to a report by Der Spiegel, representatives from the German carmaker are currently holding discussions with authorities in the US about fixing 85,000 Audi vehicles powered by the emissions-cheating 3.0-liter V6 TDI engine. During preliminary discussions, it has been revealed that around 25,000 older generation cars from Audi cannot be fixed to make them fully compliant with pollution regulations. As such, Audi needs to buy them back.
Vehicles powered by the said 3.0-liter V6 TDI engine in the US include: VW Touareg (model years 2009-2016), Porsche Cayenne (MY 2013-2016), Audi A6 (MY 2014-2016), Audi A7 (MY 2014-2016), Audi A8, including the A8L (MY 2014-2016), Audi Q5 (MY 2014-2016), and Audi Q7 (MY 2009-2016). Initially, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a violation order for vehicles powered by this powerplant covering 2014-2016 model years.
Following investigations, EPA discovered that the engine’s software could cheat emissions test. Just a second after the typical duration of emissions test, the software allows for the production of higher amounts of nitrogen oxide. Audi’s parent VW Group made an admission that this issue has been occurring since the 2009 model year. Although VW Group tried to initiate a fix for the issue, regulators rejected the carmaker’s proposal.
For one, the California Air Resources Board said in its report that the proposal is incomplete and deficient in a number of areas. It added that the VW Group failed to show sufficient proof that the proposed fix could actually address the issue.
Litigation regarding the issue has been ongoing in the US District Court in San Francisco as presided by Judge Charles Breyer. Audi disclosed that the court has set a status conference on November 3, 2016 to discuss the matter. The premium carmaker said that it is cooperating with US regulators to achieve an approved resolution for the affected 3.0-liter V-6 TDI vehicles. The carmaker has been working on another fix for the issue, which should be ready in late October or early November. This could mean that this new fix could be one of the agenda in the November 3 status conference.
On the other hand, VW Group is proposing to buy back around 475,000 vehicles powered by the 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI engine in the US, which would likely cost the German company around $10.03 billion. Although this proposed campaign has yet to be approved, the US judge hearing the case has said that he was “strongly inclined” to give it a green light.
Although vehicles powered by the 3.0 V6 TDI are fewer than those fitted with 2.0-liter diesel engines, they are sold at higher prices. This means that a buyback campaign for the 3.0 V6 TDI-powered vehicles would mean further cost amounting to billions of dollars.